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Retirement benefits can be stopped, but there are negatives

Q: Can a person stop Social Security retirement benefits if they retire at age 62 but then change their mind and go back to work full-time?

A: Unexpected changes may occur after starting Social Security retirement.

Stopping payment of retirement benefits can be done, with each option having positive and negative points to consider.

You can totally withdraw an application if within 12 months of starting benefits, which includes repaying all SSA benefits you and anyone else received through the application.

Later, a new application would be required to restart benefits and your retirement amount would be computed based on it.

However, you might miss out on benefits if earning less than anticipated or due to changes in retirement earnings test limits from year to year.

Retirement test information for 2014 is in the Social Security retirement planner at

The earnings test includes only your personal gross wages or net income from self-employment.

If younger than full retirement age (FRA), a different way to temporarily stop receiving benefits when returning to more or full-time work is just to increase your estimated earnings amount for the year.

Your application remains active but, based on your increased earnings estimate and the annual retirement test, some or none SSA retirement might be payable to you for the year.

Upon retiring or reducing work again, a new application is not required to start benefits, just lower your earnings estimate.

However, if you restart benefits when still younger FRA they will resume at the original reduced amount.

Amounts are recalculated effective with FRA to increase benefits for months that you worked and did not receive a retirement benefit.

Earnings test limits end when you reach full retirement age. Once at FRA, you can work and receive your SSA retirement benefits or you can request to suspend benefits past that age to gain delayed retirement credit increases.

New earnings potentially could increase your retirement amount whether or not you receive Social Security benefits during the year.

Retirement amounts are automatically reviewed when new earnings are posted to your work record.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota.  Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at